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Low Carbon Farming

Giant greenhouses, each the size of 26 football pitches, are being built in Britain to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers using excess heat from sewage farms.

Low Carbon Farming is building greenhouses that are heated by wastewater processing in a bid to make the UK more self-sufficient in some food products. At the moment the UK imports the majority of its tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers - often bringing them in from countries with water shortages.

The new project will eventually see Low Carbon Farming spend £2.67 billion to open 43 sewage heated greenhouses across the UK over the next five years. The first two vast greenhouses are to open in Suffolk and Norfolk.

The technology works by taking treated water from sewage works and circulating it in a closed loop to pumps that extract the heat. That 'waste heat' is then sent off to warm the greenhouses where a range of produce can be grown year round, according to the company behind the plans.

The technique will reduce the carbon footprint of the produce by 75 per cent compared to traditional gas-heated greenhouses. Low Carbon Farming say they are able to use specialist screens to reduce the need for pesticides, use 10 times less water than traditional field farming and have no wastage due to water re-circulation techniques. 

The company says the waste water powered greenhouses will also produce ten times more than products grown in a field.

The heat will come from sewage plants operated by Anglian Water and could see the first tomatoes and peppers sent to supermarkets as early as March 2021. Andy Allen, from Low Carbon Farming, told The Times that eventually their 43 greenhouses would be able to produce 600,000 tonnes of tomatoes annually. This is the same amount consumed in the UK every year but the bulk of tomatoes used - about four fifths - is currently imported.

Allen says the company was created to 'solve serious national issues of food security and agricultural reliance on fossil fuels. Developing a solution has taken teams of experts from multiple disciplines and means Britain is a step closer to reducing agricultural carbon emissions'.

David Riley, head of carbon neutrality at Anglian Water, said projects like this help them fullfil their environmental obligations in an innovative way. 'Finding alternative sustainable uses for land close to water recycling centres which also make use of excess energy makes sense for UK businesses,' he said.

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